My Struggle with Interior Design Sustainability

There’s something bothering me about my profession, and I don’t think I was able to really put it into words until I started considering what made some projects more difficult for me and what I would be looking for in my own space.  As an interior designer, my job is to outfit your home with a new look and an overall aesthetic.  I promote purchasing goods, making shopping lists for clients to create that look.  At this point in my own life, I struggle with purchasing things for my own home, however pretty it may be.  I actually purge regularly, removing things from my space and identify more with creating spacial efficiency.  This idea is almost the opposite of what is provided by some interior designers and how people identify what interior designers do.

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Photo of that one time I came dressed to match LA’s Pacific Design Center.

I started considering some more difficult projects, and although reasons for a project being difficult can range, I saw that a few clients had a general expectation and misconception of what good interior design consisted of.  We are fed through various home improvement shows as well as advertising and marketing that we need to fill the space.  I’ve seen homes with tchotchkes all around, over decorating with random things that serve no purpose.  I’ve replaced cheap furnishings, ones that someone purchases just to have something there, that now has sign of wear and tear that they end up just putting these pieces out on the corner for the garbage truck.  Filling the space just to fill it does not constitute good design.

Here’s my gripe with all that “filling”: one, you aren’t helping the functionality of your home at all by doing it and two, you are actually creating a LOT of waste by doing it.  Back in 2009, the EPA reported that almost 10 MILLION TONS of household materials went to the trash, with home furnishings being the least recycled of that category.  That was in 2009, and the number of what is spent on furnishings has dramatically gone up since then.

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“Testing” bathtubs in Vegas for KBIS.

So what do I do with my career directly linked to this?  How can I provide clients with interior design services when I have anti-consumerism feelings towards the whole idea?

First, I need to change the way people see interiors.  It’s not about the things you have in your home, it really is about how your home functions and re-evaluate what you have in your home that makes it special to you.  By no means do I have a minimalist home, but everything in here is either functional or makes me or my family happy.  Sometimes I find myself falling for tchotchke stuff, it’s easy to do and there’s lots of it out there, but that’s why I purge.

Second, consider how you purge.  I donate items to a local group called The White Elephant Sale which benefits the Oakland Museum.  It’s the largest rummage sale in California, and when you donate they can provide pickup and passes for the yearly sale.  Someone’s trash can be someone else’s treasure.  There’s always other options like Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, etc… just make sure you aren’t just tossing it into a landfill.

Third, I can give the option of the consigned, refurbished, and antique.  Not only can this be a more cost-effective solution, it can add a special unique touch to your home.  There’s a couple sites outside of Craigslist and Ebay that you can find great items, like Viyet and Cherish that offer fun pieces and even payment plans or delivery.  Keep an eye out for your local consignment shops, a lot of them aren’t online but are popping up everywhere.

Lastly, I can make some conscious decisions on where the furnishings come from.  Obviously, specifying cheaply-made and mass-manufactured items have a higher chance of ending up in the trash.  This doesn’t mean I go crazy within a budget on the high-end.  Knowing how something is made, the materials used, and the process in the production aides in the decision.  Some sources like The Wooden Duck offers products made from recycled and reclaimed woods.  To jump in a little further than just the landfill, there are also social responsibilities to be aware of.  Just because I’m anti-tchotchke doesn’t mean I’m anti-accessorizing.  I love finding things on my travels to use in my home, again finding things that are special to me. If I have to source some worldly items like rugs, accent pillows, and other accessories, I’d like to think these items aren’t underpaying an artisan or even promoting child labor, so I check Far+Wide Collective or Enrou for some fair trade goodies.

The whole idea of interior design has been evolving with the addition of technology and living “green”, so I think my dilemma is a matter of having the world catch up to it’s evolution.  I am here to help and be an advocate for that change.  Remember that it’s not about filling your home, or having exactly what you see in catalogs and television.  Design should be more personal than that, everyone should have a relationship to their space.

So….

Let me help you with creating that relationship.

My company is sponsoring a giveaway with a lot of awesome prizes like design services, products from Viyet and Enrou, even an iPhone 7!  Here’s the opportunity to work with me on a premium design package.  All you have to do is enter at this link.

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the link again:

http://giveaway.enrou.co/landing?promo_id=e2e84dbb-f3ee-43ba-8935-d1297c571e51&campaign_id=636&utm_campaign=Home-Sweet-Home&utm_medium=sweeps&utm_source=Laurel-Wolf

Entries will be accepted online starting on or about September 12, 2016 and ending October 8, 2016. All online entries must be received by October 8, 2016 11:59PM EST and all the rules for the Sweepstakes can be found HERE.

If you miss this opportunity for winning free design work, you can still work with me directly here:

LW O2

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